The Green Ghost

It's a cold and stormy night as Kaye and her parents head toward her grandmother's house to celebrate Christmas. Jolted by a slide off the road, Kaye looks up to see a girl in the woods. Or is she a ... ? Young mystery fans will fly through "The Green Ghost," by Marion Dane Bauer of Eden Prairie. And parents will quietly ache at the inevitable outcome of this tale of two girls, separated by 70 years but bonded by loyalty.

Discovering Pig Magic

Life is not going as planned for 13-year-old Mattie, and there's just one thing to do. She and her two closest friends gather for a secret burial ritual, purging themselves by tossing prized objects into the earth. But the plan fails. Life gets grittier. Only by digging deep into herself will Mattie find her way out. Despite tough themes, including a mother hooked on computer games to mask a painfully evident depression, "Discovering Pig Magic," winner of the 2008 Milkweed Prize for Children's Literature, is a steady, sweet and quiet book, full of humanity.

The Remarkable & Very True Story of Lucy & Snowcap

After the men on her island turn to stone, 12-year-old Lucy departs to save her brother from the same fate. She adds an unlikely companion, self-absorbed Snowcap. As the girls travel together, mysteries unfold, tales are told, desires are revealed. Written by H.M. Bouwman of St. Paul, the story creates a celebration of courage and belief in possibilities.

Every Soul a Star

Ally doesn't have to wonder what life would be like if she grew up in simpler times. The planetary-savvy protagonist of "Every Soul a Star" is a rare modern kid who lives that simpler life, helping her family run Moon Shadow campground in the middle of nowhere. But as thousands of strangers arrive hoping to witness a spectacular solar eclipse, Allie's life spins out of control. With the help of two unlikely new friends, she finds her grounding and helps them find theirs.

The Porcupine Year

Lilting language, humor and heartache fill Louise Erdrich's gorgeous story, the third book in her trilogy for young readers. Here, 12-year-old Omakayas and her Ojibwe family are forced to leave their beloved homeland to make way for white settlers. As always, Erdrich does not shy away from adult themes, including the ravages of alcoholism and kidnapping. But she wraps up with a tear-inducing celebration of tradition, resilience and family love.


After two years of stuffing immeasurable grief by getting stoned with his slacker best friend, Andy, high-schooler Ryan finds himself back at the hospital where his little sister died of cancer two years earlier. But the beautiful comatose girl he is drawn to visit is hardly a friend. Koertge's crisp and edgy writing features complex and compelling characters and teen dialogue so spot-on you'll think (make that, fear) you're back in high school. If you don't sob at the final two paragraphs, (and don't cheat), I'd like to take your pulse.

What They Always Tell Us

Martin Wilson's riveting debut novel offers an equally complex exploration of sibling bonds. High school senior James is repulsed and confused by younger brother Alex's suicide attempt at a party. The act, which even Alex cannot explain, threatens to sever their once-tight bond. But the brothers make their way back to each other, in part due to a strange little boy who moves in across the street. James discovers the depths of his love when faced with a burgeoning (and mutual) attraction between Alex and James' close friend, Nathen, a brave story line handled realistically and respectfully.